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Ahmedabad Court Acquits All Accused In 2002 Naroda Gam Gujarat Riots Case

There were a total of 86 accused (including 18 dead during probe period) in 2002 Naroda Gam Gujarat riots case. The accused were booked under multiple sections.

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2002 Naroda Gam Gujarat riots case

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A special court in Ahmedabad on Thursday acquitted all accused in the 2002 Naroda Gam massacre in which former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani, and Bharatiya Janata Party and former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi were among the accused.

There were a total of 86 accused in the case, but 18 of them died in the intervening period. The accused were facing charges under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), and 153 (provocation for riots), among others. The maximum punishment for these crimes is death.

2002 Naroda Gam Gujarat riots case

Eleven persons were killed in communal violence in the Naroda Gam area of Ahmedabad city on February 28, 2002, during a bandh called to protest the Godhra train burning a day before in which 58 passengers, mostly Karsevaks returning from Ayodhya, were killed.

The prosecution and defence examined 187 and 57 witnesses, respectively, during the trial that started in 2010 and went on for nearly 13 years with six judges successively presiding over the case, said special prosecutor Suresh Shah.

Among the evidence produced by the prosecution was the video of a sting operation carried out by journalist Ashish Khetan as well as call details of Kodnani, Bajrangi and others during the relevant period.

When the trial started, S H Vora was the presiding judge. He was elevated to the Gujarat High Court. His successors, Jyotsna Yagnik, K K Bhatt and P B Desai, retired during the trial. Special judge M K Dave who came next was transferred, special prosecutor Suresh Shah said.

"The trial (deposition of witnesses) concluded around four years ago. Arguments of the prosecution concluded and the defence was making its arguments when then special judge P B Desai retired. So arguments started afresh before judge Dave and later judge Baxi which delayed the proceedings," he said.

Kodnani, who was a minister in the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government, was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail in the Naroda Patiya riot case where 97 people were massacred. She was later discharged by the Gujarat High Court.

In the 2002 Naroda Gam Gujarat riots case, she has been charged with criminal conspiracy besides rioting, murder and attempted murder.

(With PTI inputs)

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